Andy Samberg Harvard Commencement Speech Transcript at College Class Day in 2012
Comedian and SNL star Andy Samberg was a featured guest speaker at Harvard College Class Day on May 23, 2012. Read the full text of his commencement speech here.
Transcribe Your Own Content
Try Rev and save time transcribing, captioning, and subtitling.
Andy Samberg: (01:03)
Wait. Sorry, sorry. Sorry. Sorry. Stop the music. Sorry. What happened there? That song is just so emotional. I just met that guy. All right. I’m going to just have to compose myself. The show must go on here.
Andy Samberg: (01:30)
Students, faculty, parents, grandparents, uncles that weren’t invited, but showed up anyway, handsome young janitors who are secretly math geniuses, and the homeless guy from, With Honors, my name is Andy Samberg, and I am his honored to be here today as I am unqualified.
Andy Samberg: (02:01)
There’s a storied history of incredible Class Day speakers here at Harvard, Nobel Prize laureate, Mother Theresa, former US president, Bill Clinton, and now me, the fake rap wiener songs guy. I’m also just over-the-moon to be receiving an honorary degree here today. I mean, never in my wildest dreams did I … What’s that? No degree? So what, I’m just like a professor or? Oh, Nothing? Then why am I here? Dean Hammonds …
Dean Hammonds: (02:45)
Andy Samberg: (02:48)
… you lied to me. All right, I’ll just do this crappy speech then. I flew my folks in. Here we go.
Andy Samberg: (03:03)
Class of 2012, you are graduating from college. That means this is the first day of the last day of your life. No, that’s wrong. This is the last day of the first day of school. Nope, that’s worse. This is a day.
Andy Samberg: (03:38)
I too turned to Webster’s dictionary, and it defined Harvard as, “The season for gathering crops.” And admittedly, that’s actually the definition of harvest, but it was the closest word I could find to Harvard that wasn’t a proper noun. And in the end, isn’t that what Harvard is really about though, planting the seeds of knowledge that eventually produced crops, aka money, in order to satisfy the farmers, your parents, who pay like 45,000 crops a year to send you to harvest just so you could major in Women’s Agriculture. You’ll see what I’m doing.
Andy Samberg: (04:29)
Before we move on, the world outside of Harvard has asked me to make a quick announcement. The following majors are apparently useless as of tomorrow history, literature, all things related to art, social studies, East Asian studies, pretty much anything that ends with studies, romance languages, and finally folklore and mythology. Come on, guys, just study something useful and play World of Warcraft in your free time. Okay? Anyhow, all those majors now useless, unless you can somehow turn them into an iPhone app. Math and science majors, you guys are cool, yeah, finally.
Andy Samberg: (05:17)
But 2012 is a great time to be graduating from college. Sure, the job market’s a little slow. Sure, our healthcare and social security systems are going to evaporate in five years. Sure, you’ll have to work until you’re 80 to support your 110-year-old parents, who will live forever because of nanotechnology. Sure, the concept of love will soon disappear, leaving us all lonely robots, ready to kill our best friend for a lukewarm cup of microchip soup. But that doesn’t matter, because tomorrow you graduate from harvest … Harvard, from Harvard is where you will graduate.
Andy Samberg: (05:59)
Now, I’m sure a lot of you were looking up here and thinking, “What makes this guy so special? what has he accomplished? He didn’t even go to Harvard.” Well, to you, I say this, I didn’t even apply to Harvard. Okay? Because I knew I wouldn’t get in.
Andy Samberg: (06:20)
Boom. Suck on that. I don’t accept you, esteemed college. I break up first. I move on, and you see me with my hot new girlfriend, and she’s riding shotgun in my convertible Sebring. That’s right. It’s the one that Harvard was always begging me to rent, and we went up the coast, and I’m just laughing and looking really fit like, “Has he been hitting the gym?” Nope. Just eating right and making positive choices.
Andy Samberg: (06:48)
Man, I really wanted that honorary degree. Well, I guess the old saying is true, “Never trust Dean Hammonds.”
Andy Samberg: (07:04)
Regardless, Harvard remains iconic in our culture. One thing that sticks out in my mind is the central role this campus played in one of the most important films ever made about social connections and how we communicate. I’m referring, of course, to 1986, whimsical blackface romp, Soul Man, starring C. Thomas Howell, as a white student posing as an African-American in order to exploit affirmative action. He was in Harvard Law in that movie, and that movie exists.
Andy Samberg: (07:38)
Now, most of you don’t know this yet, But Harvard is one of the few schools you can attend that can also eventually become your workplace nickname. “Whose edamame is this in the break room?” “Probably Harvard’s.” Who’s Vespas in my parking spot?” Oh, I’m going with Harvard’s.”
Andy Samberg: (07:57)
In fact, once you graduate, you can never wear your Harvard sweatshirt in public again, without looking like a world-class a-hole. I honestly think the Coop should sell University of Michigan tee-shirts that you can wear just to blend in once you’re out of here. And to clarify, when I say, “The Coop.” I mean your campus bookstore and not famous film actor, Bradley Cooper, whom I also refer to as, “The Coop.” And who also sells books and sweatshirts in his free time.
Andy Samberg: (08:29)
Speaking of fame, Harvard has many famous alumni, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, just a few ex students that started successful businesses after dropping out. Which means if you’re in this crowd today and graduating, you’re destined to be a massive failure. Sorry. Those are just the facts.
Andy Samberg: (08:49)
Also, a fact. Class Day is a terrible name for a day when you don’t have to go to class, like ever again, It’s pretty much like calling New Year’s Eve Sobriety Night. “Hey, are you going out for Sobriety Night?” “Yeah, it’s going to suck.”
Andy Samberg: (09:11)
And now on a more literary note, I’d like to read a poem by the great W.B. Yeats, which is actually pronounced, Yeats. A lot of people don’t know that. Thanks for the heads up Barney Frank. Anyways, this is a truly beautiful and poignant passage from the 1929 collection, The Winding Stair and Other Poems, and I think it’s especially applicable to today’s ceremonies. It goes like this.
Andy Samberg: (09:44)
“This is how we do it. This is how we do it. It’s Friday night, and I feel all right. Hit the shore, because I’m faded. Honeys in the streets. Say money, yo, we made it.”
Andy Samberg: (10:09)
There’s more, but you get it. Classic Yeats, an important poet.
Andy Samberg: (10:20)
Now, while I am truly excited to be here today, I’ll be honest, at 33 years of age, I haven’t endured or lived that much more than you guys. So in order to give you a broader scope of what’s to come, I reached out and asked for some words of wisdom from some people that I thought were relevant to your experience here, the aforementioned Mark Zuckerberg, who was a Harvard student, was kind enough to send me some remarks that I will relate to you now.
Andy Samberg: (10:47)
“Well, hey, guys, it’s me Mark, or as my friend Kofi Annan calls me, Zuckleberry Finn. He thought of that. I just wanted to give a quick congrats to all, but really more of a congrats to me. Since I left, things have gone so good, you guys, like a six year old’s fantasy of the future food. In fact, I recently completed the Harvard trifecta, start your own company, have a movie made about you and marry an Asian doctor. Trifecta. So everyone out there, be sure to upgrade to timeline and lay off the Pinocchio’s pizza. I went to Harvard.”
Andy Samberg: (11:28)
That’s what he had to say. I also asked, for the local experience, I asked Massachusetts native, Mark Wahlberg, to send over some thoughts for you guys. And here’s what he had to say.
Andy Samberg: (11:48)
“Hey, Harvard, how’s it going? So you guys are graduating, huh? I think that’s great. Hey, we should do a film together? What do you think? You guys are super-smart, right? I used a prosthetic penis in Boogie Nights. Okay. Just think about it. Say hi to your mother for me, okay?”
Andy Samberg: (12:10)
He asked me to say that to you guys. And then finally I asked blockbuster superstar, Nick Cage, for some remarks. Now, I realize he didn’t go to Harvard and he’s not from Boston, but he has a special connection to this place that I’ll let him explain. Here’s what he wrote.
Andy Samberg: (12:32)
“Good afternoon. As I write to you, I’m currently digging a tunnel into the bowels of the Widener Library. When I finally breach its mighty walls, I will steal the legendary Gutenberg Bible and return it to its rightful owner. Steve Guttenberg. I’ve seen some weird stuff in my day. In Istanbul, I saw a small child swallow a Pelican whole. In the Sahara desert, I saw a herd of oxen fly into a portal and disappear from our world forever. But no matter what I’ve seen, there’s been one thing I’ve held to be true. Love is the most powerful force this universe has to offer, and we should show kindness to all around us, with the exception of Dean Hammonds, who is a filthy liar. And that my friends is the true meaning of Hanukkah. I’d love to keep writing, but now the time has come for me to ride onto my next adventure. What’s that you ask? Simple. I’m going to have sex with the statue of John Harvard.”
Andy Samberg: (13:52)
And those are my three impressions. Thank you. You guys, late-night television led me straight here. Now we’ve been paying a lot of attention to the students here today, but I want to take a moment and acknowledge all the parents. In particular, I want to give a shout out to all the moms in the house. Give it up. Absolutely. Absolutely. Our moms put up with so much, and they ask for so little. And as I look out at all the beautiful mothers here today, I can’t help, but be filled with an overwhelming sense of horniness.
Andy Samberg: (14:40)
Oh, yes, you’re a fine crop, indeed, and I likes me some older ladies. They know how to do stuff, if you know what I mean. So to all the moms, open invitation, nobody gets to know about it. Now, before all you dads out there get upset, I mean no disrespect, really. And you got to be something special if you’ve got such fine ladies on your arms. In fact, as I look at it, all these strong loyal men, I can’t help it be filled with an overwhelming sense of horniness. Oh, yes, I see a lot of silver foxes out there today. And Harvard ain’t cheap. Where my sugar daddies at? Yeah, I see you. You don’t have to raise your hand. Open invitation, gentlemen. Nobody gots to know.
Andy Samberg: (15:50)
Now I’d like to get a little serious. As you move forward in the world, there will be obstacles, but every challenge is a chance for success. You know what? I’m sorry. I had a whole inspirational section of this prepared, but it just feels phony now. So I’m going to scrap these scripted words and just speak to you guys from the heart.
Andy Samberg: (16:20)
Yeah. This stuff is much more from the heart. Look, the things I’m about to say to you aren’t to make any friends and they’re not for some cheap applause. Okay? It’s real talk, and it comes from my soul, so listen up. Yale sucks balls. Am I right? Cheer if I’m right. Oh, they’re the worst. Yale asked me to do their Class Day speech, but I could make it to the stage, because I kept slipping in all their drool. It’s like a second tier safety school in the worst city in America. Guys, I’m kidding. New Haven’s nicer now, than Rwanda.
Andy Samberg: (17:12)
Little known fact about Yale. It was built on top of an ancient Native American toilet. I mean, it’s no wonder they’re called the Bulldogs. They’re a bunch of big-headed inbreds with breathing problems. And that comes with my apologies to any inbreds here today. Don’t let anyone compare you to a Yalie. And look, this all might sound harsh, but in truth, Yale is basically a sewer filled with mole people only replace the word, “people”, with stinky dried-up dog turds that hate laughter and puppies.
Andy Samberg: (17:46)
And that’s my heart stuff, you guys, from my soul. For some of you, it might’ve been tough to hear, but I felt it was my duty to give it to you straight. Also, quick confession. I know literally nothing about Yale, but I will say this, Dartmouth can burn in hell.
Andy Samberg: (18:10)
Ah, Class Day. It’s hard to know where life will take you from here, what adventures you’ll have, which sitcoms you’ll write for. But my advice to you is simple. Relax, dude. You just finished college at Harvard. You worked so hard. Trust me, you’re going to kill it.
Andy Samberg: (18:33)
I went to Santa Cruz, and then I transferred to film school, and I’m rich. Okay? And I don’t mean spiritually rich or any hippie crap like that. I’m talking about racks on racks. Believe it. I’m being a little hyperbolic to seem cool, but I am up against Mother Teresa on this thing. Okay? Have you guys YouTubed her Class Day speech. She was like crumping and throwing bags of money into the crowd. I’m going to take some liberties.
Andy Samberg: (19:06)
But in the days ahead, a lot of people will tell you to trust your instincts and don’t be afraid to take chances. And I am definitely one of those people, but I would also say this. Don’t rush into the next phase of your life. Whether it’s grad school at Harvard, or grad school at MIT, or massively disappointing your parents by exploring your art made out of garbage thing, whatever it is you try, make sure it’s what you really want to do, because the only person who knows what that is, is you. And if all else fails, just remember these beautiful words from the film, Dead Poets Society.
Andy Samberg: (19:47)
“Neil. My Neil is dead. My boy.”
Andy Samberg: (20:01)
Which now that I’ve said out loud, did not quite drive home my point as much as I had hoped. In fact, I’m realizing that only like 7% of what I’ve said today has been at all helpful or even passable as English. But in the end, I feel I’m only truly qualified to give you three simple tips on how to succeed in life. One, cut a hole in a box. Two, put your junk in said box. Three, make her or him open the box, and that’s the way you do it.
Andy Samberg: (20:50)
Also, I can’t believe I’m about to say this, but Dean Hammonds, I forgive you. Bygones be bygones. I’ve already got that sweet degree from Santa Cruz and film school anyway. So thank you, graduates. Godspeed and congratulations. Play the Yeats.